CU Denver partners with Opera Colorado for virtual reality experience

Exhibition features behind-the-scenes footage from Opera Colorado’s hit production of 'La Bohème'

December 13, 2017

The University of Colorado Denver has partnered with Opera Colorado and virtual reality agency Hypercube to create Experience La Bohème—a 360-degree, virtual reality exhibition that takes viewers behind the scenes of a large-scale opera production.

Three images of La Boheme actors performing their scenes
La Boheme actors perform at the Buell Theater

The free exhibition opens Friday, December 15, at the NXT STG Collaborative Gallery, across from the Buell Theater in the Denver Performing Arts Complex Galleria. It runs through May 2018, allowing thousands of DPAC arts-goers to stop in, put on a virtual reality headset and step into the world of an opera performer.

“Many people are unaware of the thousands of hours that go into mounting an opera, and the work of dozens of behind-the-scenes players in addition to the artists you see and hear on stage or in the orchestra pit,” said Opera Colorado General Director Greg Carpenter. “This collaboration with CU Denver’s College of Arts & Media gives us an opportunity to share with the public the magic of opera in a whole new way, while also aligning perfectly with Opera Colorado’s commitment to education and community partnerships.”

Experience La Bohème comes on the heels of Opera Colorado’s critically acclaimed production of Puccini’s La Bohème, and features an exclusive look at the process of getting the production ready for audiences.

While the cast and crew were busy in rehearsals and performances, CU Denver professors Michelle Bauer Carpenter and Travis Vermilye worked with 56 of their Digital Design students to create this experience.

Teams from the College of Arts & Media captured and edited footage spotlighting nearly every aspect of mounting an opera—from creating sets to applying make-up to rehearsals—along with dressing room interviews with opera stars, Opera Colorado Music Director Ari Pelto, and in-demand stage director Matthew Ozawa.

The result combines virtual reality and traditional video footage for an immersive look at grand opera. Additionally, the Experience La Bohème installation features augmented reality displays created by student teams and highlighting additional elements of the opera.

“The College of Arts & Media’s unique program in Digital Design allows students to integrate creative solutions, visual design and critical thinking with expertise in advanced electronic media,” said Laurence Kaptain, Dean of the College of Arts & Media and a member of the Opera Colorado Board of Directors.

He lauds this collaboration between technology and the arts.

“I’m proud of this affiliation that advances the exciting work of Opera Colorado through the lens of a 21st-century vision that is extended by the latest digital technology,” he said.

Experience La Bohème is a collaboration by Opera Colorado, the College of Arts & Media at the University of Colorado Denver, and Hypercube. The NXT STG  Collaborative Gallery is a collaboration between the City of Denver Arts and Venues/Denver Performing Arts Complex and CU Denver’s College of Arts & Media